What is a weed? Simply stated, it is a plant growing where we don't want it to grow. Organic weed control can be accomplished in a number of ways. Cutting weeds with a string trimmer, hoeing, tilling, mulching, cover cropping and hand pulling are methods that I use.
Cutting with a string trimmer: I like to allow grass and other plants to grow in my garden paths. The green paths prevent erosion and also enable me to walk in my garden after it has rained without getting muddy feet. When the growth is higher than I like I cut it with a string trimmer. The cut portion falls to the ground and provides organic matter for the soil.
Hoeing and tilling: I use these two methods for potatoes, peas, beans and corn. Tilling between the rows and then hoeing directly around the plants works well.
Mulching: Mulching the soil prevents top crusting, conserves moisture and prevents weeds from growing. Hay is a good mulch even though it may contain seeds. If some growth comes through the hay it is easily removed. I also use leaves for mulch but must top them with a little hay or the wind would blow them away. When the leaves and hay break down they also provide organic matter for the soil. Black plastic is a useful mulch for heat loving plants such as watermelon, canteloupe, cucumber, sweet potato and tomatoes. Fall planted strawberries also benefit from the warmth of black plastic. The disadvantage of black plastic is that it must be removed after the growing season and discarded.
Hand pulling: I hand pull weeds that manage to grow through the hay and those that come up in the planting holes on black plastic.
Weeds are not an enemy. They are a natural part of the garden environment and when managed well with organic weed control methods weeds can actually be of benefit.